Editor’s Note: As we completed a challenging and unique year and entered a new one, the Training Industry editorial board asked training leaders to write their reflections on 2020 and projections for 2021. This is a series of “What has changed and what has not?” : Summing up the results of 2020 and planning for 2021, ”is the result. Also, don’t miss our infographics, “5 tips on how to turn the riots of 2020 in the direction of 2021: understanding from learning leaders”, who shares thoughts from the series.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced manufacturers to find new ways to train workers as traditional on-the-job training (OJT) more was impossible due to the requirements of social distancing. In addition, in a Manufacturing Institute survey in 2019, 70% of manufacturers said that “the greatest impact of robotics on the workforce in the next five years will be the increased need for talent to manage in a more automated, flexible production environment and job creation for robotics engineers and their operating systems ”.
Manufacturers meet this need through distance learning tools using advanced technology, including augmented reality (AR) and 3D work instructions to prepare workers for the expected increase in the use of robotics in production, while fulfilling the mandates of COVID-19.
The benefits of learning AR
The use of advanced learning tools provides more benefits than maintaining social distance, which will force manufacturers to prefer their on-the-job training in 2021. AR training improves comprehension, expands knowledge of spatial structure and function, and preserves long-term memory preservation, while improving physical performance.
Thanks to the 3D instructions built into the mixed reality production line (MR), new employees always have help to help them in their work. Experienced workers can also add valuable instructions based on their knowledge while maintaining tribal knowledge. This transfer of knowledge will be especially important in the next decade, as the workforce in production expects a wave of retirement.
Impact of COVID-19
As COVID-19 restrictions continue, we will still see a less crowded factory as manufacturers are forced to work with fewer employees. To ensure the safety of workers in meeting production requirements, we will see that manufacturers rely on AR training to retrain them for new operations and other important areas such as safety, maintenance and quality assurance when they take on new tasks.
As we saw in 2020, digitally supported factories are allowing manufacturers to change their capabilities to create personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, hand sanitizers and other essential materials to help healthcare organizations keep up with demand. AR-supported training helps workers learn quickly and remotely to produce these new products, enabling them to quickly and efficiently accelerate production and turn operations.
As we see demand for PPE rise sharply as the pandemic continues this year, we are likely to see manufacturers use AR training to adjust operations to produce the necessary materials while maintaining employee safety. Remote care solutions with AR support is likely to become the standard to facilitate on-site training and prompt response to on-site workers ’questions to avoid production delays. These solutions combine AR applications with live video of an employee’s production line, allowing off-site experts to assess the situation in real time and make appropriate recommendations. These experts can also mark focal areas with 3D labels overlaid on the video channel.
Focus on people
Although COVID-19 accelerates digital transformation, leading manufacturers to increase investment in industry Internet of Things (IoT) technology and automation, people are still the heart of the operation. As automation prevents overcrowding by replacing tedious, repetitive tasks, workers will use new technology to solve problems and improve performance.
For example, an employee can analyze data from a connected machine to predict downtime or find ways to consolidate processes. This collaboration of man and machine will help manufacturers comply with sanitary norms and accelerate production in a pandemic and beyond.
Even though smart factories are changing jobs, people need to be at the heart of any organization. In 2021, manufacturers will focus on man to maximize production and use talent accordingly. As AR technology becomes a new standard for training and remote support for a new distributed workforce, operations will also move to a flexible production model that will be in demand in 2021.